Breast cancer (illustrative photo).
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Thousands of people are expected to flock to Jerusalem’s Heichal Hapayis Arena on Thursday evening, not only to see President Reuven Rivlin and watch the performances of Rami Kleinstein and other stars, but also to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Zichron Menachem – a voluntary organization unique throughout the world.
After their oldest child, Menachem, succumbed to the last of five bouts of leukemia from his first birthday until his death at 16, Jerusalemites Chaim and Miri Ehrental vowed to help families of children with cancer when they noted the lack of vital services in the capital and elsewhere.
They have helped 3,500 families like their own since then – organizing free camps here and in Europe; building a huge day center for children with cancer and their healthy siblings to learn and have fun; counseling parents; obtaining hair to provide thousands of children with customized wigs even before chemotherapy makes their own fall out; collecting blood components and providing many more services unavailable elsewhere.
As emotional strength is vital in patients’ abilities to overcome cancer, these “frills” are considered by oncologists as lifesaving measures.
As healthy siblings can often be neglected by parents overwhelmed by their child’s cancer, the brothers and sisters are entertained, work on computers and get involved with sports activities at the center.
Support groups, lectures, enrichment classes, psychosocial treatment and other services are available to hundreds of families a year at no cost.
The voluntary organization’s annual budget of NIS 17 million is funded almost entirely from donations from Israel and abroad, while its manpower is almost completely based on volunteers.
Proceeds from the evening will go to purchase a large, NIS 2m. mobile emergency room to treat the children during their participation in activities around the country rather than their having to drop out to go to the hospital. When there are no such activities, the van will park near a hospital and turn into a beauty parlor for girls with cancer and their mothers can have massages and be treated to makeup sessions, manicures and pedicures and other luxuries to forget their problems. The van will also be a hair salon for collecting donated hair and making the wigs.
Zichron Menachem’s British Friends Organization has committed itself to match every shekel to be collected for equipping the van through the end of April.
A Jerusalem Post Health Page feature on Zichron Menachem will appear on Sunday, March 13.